Saturday, September 23, 2023

RPEC Weekly ACTION Newsletter – August 25, 2017

PEBB Update

As RPEC reported previously, PEBB is scheduled in increase premiums dramatically in January of 2018.  They attribute the increase, in large part, to the significant jump in specialty drug costs. Since the board passed the resolution, we have requested information on how premiums are determined and have received the following information:

FROM PEBB STAFF:  How PEBB medical premiums are determined

Your PEBB medical premium (your monthly cost for health insurance) is determined by several factors—here’s how it works.

Every year, the Legislature sets the funding levels for:

  • How much state agencies and higher-education institutions will contribute toward their employees’ PEBB health care coverage.
  • The maximum allowed monthly subsidy (currently $150/month) for Medicare retirees’ monthly premiums (which the PEB Board usually supports).

Note: K-12 and employer group employees’ premiums are determined by their employer. Retirees not enrolled in Medicare do not receive a monthly subsidy from the state.

Each spring, the HCA and the medical plans negotiate premiums based on the funding levels. First, proposed premiums are submitted to the PEBB Program. These premiums are based on the plans’ health care costs for previous years and their total cost estimates of the upcoming year’s services. Total costs depend on estimates of how many people will enroll in each plan, how often they go to the doctor, which services they need, and how much those services cost.

When the PEBB Program and the plans agree on the proposed premiums, the premiums are presented to the PEB Board, which votes on them to set premiums for the upcoming calendar year.

Throughout this process, the goal is to provide better health and better care at a lower cost. For example, HCA has quality measures in its contracts with the medical plans to make sure your care meets certain standards. Wellness programs like SmartHealth focus on improving member health, which will lead to lower health care costs in the future. The PEBB Program is also studying strategies to moderate the increasing costs of prescription drugs.

Many factors affect your medical premium, but the PEB Board and PEB Program are always working to lower costs while providing high-quality care to meet your needs.

RPEC believes that we must move forward in two ways to address these skyrocketing health care premiums.  First, we must get legislation passed to increase the $150 state Medicare supplement which was cut several years ago.  Secondly, we must move discussions forward inside PEBB to use the massive buying power to push back on pharmaceutical costs in our state.  Both of these items were acknowledge by the PEB Board at the last meeting and we must ensure they happen.

Attached is a comparison of the various PEBB Medicare Plans.


Governors, State Insurance Commissioners to Weigh in on Health Care Bill

The Senate’s Health Committee will hear from state insurance commissioners and governors about how to stabilize the ObamaCare exchanges during two hearings next month.

State insurance commissioners will testify on Sept. 6, while governors will appear before the panel the following day.

“At these hearings, we will hear testimony from state insurance commissioners and governors—those closest to the problem—on steps Congress can take to help make insurance available at affordable prices.”

Read more here.


Climbing Cost of Decades-Old Drugs Threatens to Break Medicaid Bank

Skyrocketing price tags for new drugs to treat rare diseases have stoked outrage nationwide. But hundreds of old, commonly used drugs cost the Medicaid program billions of extra dollars in 2016 vs. 2015, a Kaiser Health News data analysis shows. Eighty of the drugs — some generic and some still carrying brand names — proved more than two decades old.

Rising costs for 313 brand-name drugs lifted Medicaid’s spending by as much as $3.2 billion in 2016, the analysis shows. Nine of these brand-name drugs have been on the market since before 1970. In addition, the data reveal that Medicaid outlays for 67 generics and other non-branded drugs cost taxpayers an extra $258 million last year.

Even after a medicine has gone generic, the branded version often remains on the market. Medicaid recipients might choose to purchase it because they’re brand loyalists or because state laws prevent pharmacists from automatically substituting generics. Drugs driving Medicaid spending increases ranged from common asthma medicines like Ventolin to over-the-counter painkillers like the generic form of Aleve to generic antidepressants and heartburn medicines.

Read more here.


As you can see, we have much work to do in the weeks and months ahead to continue the betterment of your retirement security. Your continued support and political action is a necessity!

Your Voice for Retirement Security!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *